So you need a website? Where to begin on the road to creation…
This post talks about the “big rocks” that you need to get started and explains them. It helps with the terminology so you can speak the language. This is not a detailed how-to guide on going from 0 to 60 on the web…
One option is to spend a little money and make it easy. Talk to some friends and get the name of a good web designer/web development company. Of course, I would recommend that as a sound first step. I might even recommend that you contact us…
Another option is to grow your own. If you’re looking for a basic site, have a little bit of tech savvy, a lot of time and one of the “For Dummies” books from your local library or Amazon… go for it! Or a kid learning, a friend of a friend in the biz, you get the idea.
We’ll talk in another post about the value-adds to a professional web developer. If you’re looking for more than a basic face on the web, you really should hire a pro. It’ll be well worth the money spent.
First, you’ll need a domain name.
A “domain name” is just another set of words for your web address, your www.mysite.com. Remember that this address will hopefully be with you for many years. Pick something with an eye towards branding. Today, it’s hard to get a site with a few letters, so pick something that will be easy to remember when your customer is trying to find you. And easy to type. Remember that first and foremost, your face on the web – your website – is there to market your organization. Some people are averse to the idea of marketing. I just have to say get over it. It’s really why you’re on the web, spending the time & the money. Pick well.
To get a domain name, you’ll need to visit someone called a ‘Domain Name Registrar.” Those are the guys who will register your domain name. The people who will add it to the list of all domain names and map it to the correct address so when your new client types in your www.mysite.com they reach your site . There are companies that focus on Domain Name Registration (Network Solutions). Any of the larger internet hosting companies also offer Domain Name Registration (Host Gator, for example).
You ask, which is better? Consider two issues:
- You will need to pay a yearly fee to your Domain Name Registrar (most have multiple year arrangements to make it easy) so you need to remember who to pay when,
- If you miss your payment due date there is no grace period. Once you forget to renew, your site may disappear.
So whatever place is easier is the best choice. Many hosts offer free registration for a single site for the first year when you sign up. A long winded answer… See where it’s easiest and you can get the best deal.
Wherever and however you reserve your domain name, make sure you own it. What I mean by that is that if you’re working with a professional, make sure that you own your domain name and that your name is the one it’s registered under. Your pro can be listed as the tech contact if you want, but make sure you own your brand, your domain name. See this posting on why…
Second, You’ll need someone to design & build your site.
We talked about this above. This could be you, your neighbor, son/daughter or a cool pro (like us).
Third, You’ll need a place to put said website.. a website host to host your site.
Your website host (aka host) is the company that you’re paying to use their computer to store the files that make up your website. They provide you with a level of security, hopefully provide you with backups, they may even have a slick web development environment where you can build a basic website without too much trouble. There are many hosting companies. We recommend Host Gator.
When you’re first starting, chances are that your site is not real complex. Probably a couple pages, some forms, a database and probably a content management system. The person working on your site will probably have a preference on hosting. Just make sure the host is large enough to have the bandwidth (speed), reliability, support and uptime. Larger hosts meet the requirements. If your designer/developer suggests a smaller solution, please question them. If they are being compensated for the referral that’s no problem, just be sure you understand their motivation. Sometimes smaller solutions are great, sometimes they are great for basic html but not much beyond that. Today most sites are beyond that.
Even if you have a pro working on your site, be sure that you have a copy of all login info. If it’s a single person, you don’t want a lottery issue to impact your business.
Now that my website is on the web, what do I need to think about?
There are a laundry list. To not overwhelm you, here are a couple to get started…
If you’re not really comfortable on the web, please consider using a larger web host. For their own protection they have a high level of security while being able to support many different configurations. You’ll still have to manage updates, but generally your site will flow smoother (safe, reliable, fast).
You’ll want to track visitors – where they come from and where they go, at a minimum. Google Analytics is the tool many people are using today and is a good place to start. And it’s free. What more can you ask for?
How to handle updates? Updates fall into two categories – adding new posts and pages to your site and keeping whatever technology your site was developed in up to date. Will you have someone on your team? Will you have to hire someone? Sometimes your host will help with the technology side. Usually the person who created your site is a good candidate to maintain (both categories).
Whew… That wasn’t as bad as I thought…
Hopefully you feel more comfortable about where to begin in creating a website. We talked about getting your www.mysite.com domain name, creating the site (a little), about web hosting and about what comes after.
Good luck on your journey…